Lead water pipe, Roman, 1-300 CE
The inscription cast into the side of the pipe indicates that the work was undertaken by a team under an Imperial Freeman Procurator Aquarum – an official in charge of maintaining the water supply. In some Roman towns and cities, piped water supplies were installed which were of a complexity and sophistication that would not be repeated for many centuries. Unfortunately, at the time it was not realised that lead reacts with water to create toxins, some of which are harmful to the body. It also affects the taste of the water. The pipe was bought as part of the collection of Evangelista Gennaro Gorga (1865-1957), the Italian tenor, in 1924 or 1932. The collection consisted mainly of Roman instruments and votive offerings.
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Glossary: water pipe
A poisonous substance.